Getting Rid of INFLAMMATION = No Pain!
By Edison de Mello, MD, PhD
I am often curious about the root origin of words. Do they actually describe what we are trying to convey? Or is the word basically empty of meaning without the formation of a mental image in our minds as we say it? For me, inflammation is a perfect example of how a word accurately describes what it means: creating heat.
Inflammation is derived from the Latin word INFLAMMO, meaning to ignite, to add flame. It is a medical term that describes the body's innate intelligence commanding it to increase the heat as a protective mechanism against infection. Whether inflammation is caused by a pathogen such as bacteria, an injury such as an ankle sprain, or increased inflammatory markers, as in stress, the body's response is the same: protection. Wounds and infections would never heal without inflammation, and our lives would be severely shortened.
As I have explained in my book - Bloated: How to Eat without Pain, Inflammation can present either as acute or chronic. If you've sprained an ankle or bruised your hand, you are probably familiar with the effects of inflammation: pain; redness; swelling; warm, tingling sensation; and sometimes even a loss of function. Although these effects may be uncomfortable and annoying, none of us could survive for long without the inflammatory response. This is due to inflammation's essential role in the body's defense response.
Acute inflammation is a short-term response that usually results in healing: inflammatory cells called leukocytes infiltrate the damaged region, removing the stimulus and repairing the tissue. While short-lived acute inflammation is crucial to keep us alive, chronic.
Inflammation that persists for an extended period can also kill us slowly over time. When low doses of pro-inflammatory substances, such as the stress hormone cortisol continue to be released into the body for an extended period, they attack healthy cells, blood vessels, and tissues instead of protecting them. Unlike a bruise or a cut sustained to the skin, these attacks may not always trigger pain and are nowhere to be seen. Like a poison, increasing inflammatory cells and hormones gradually destroy our bodies as we continue to lead our everyday lives at home, work, and play with a false sense of good health. Such persistent inflammation is associated with many chronic human conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, allergy, atherosclerosis, gastrointestinal conditions, arthritis - and autoimmune diseases. In fact, inflammation is the common denominator among most chronic diseases.
How do I help my body decrease the FLAME of Inflammation?
Let's start by listening to your body. As I have suggested in previous articles, our bodies talk to us with their own language: symptoms. When we ignore symptoms and refuse to attend to our body's needs, dis-EASE sets in, creating a path to long-term inflammation. In addition, there is a myriad of factors that contribute to chronic inflammation. Below are some of the major ones:
Stress: Is it any surprise that stress can increase the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals in the body? People who have experienced abdominal pain or other physical symptoms before an important event, like giving a speech, can attest to stress's effects on our bodies. ("It feels like I have butterflies in my stomach.”) But that's not all. Studies also found that mental stress can cause changes to our immune defense systems, making us more vulnerable to infectious diseases and slowing down healing by decreasing the production of pro-inflammatory hormones in places where they are needed most.
Imbalance intake of omega-6 and omega-3 fats. Omega-6 essential fatty acids found in abundance in polyunsaturated vegetable oils, such as sunflower, safflower, soybean, cottonseed, and corn, are converted into arachidonic acid by the body. But arachidonic acid, in turn, generates pro-inflammatory cells and hormones. Omega-3 essential fatty acids, on the other hand, supply the body with eicosapentaenoic// acids - potent anti-inflammatory substances found in foods such as Wild Alaskan salmon, flax and pumpkin seeds, olive oil, avocado, and nuts.
High insulin diets. Foods that increase our blood sugar levels quickly, such as cakes, cookies, white flour foods, and sodas, command our body to produce more insulin to normalize our glucose levels. However, excess insulin elevates the levels of arachidonic acid in our blood, increasing the production of pro-inflammatory cells and hormones. The take-home message is simple: avoid refined carbohydrates and excessive sugars. You can better control your weight and decrease the propensity to chronic inflammation.
Fruits and vegetables. Whole fruits, such as berries and vegetables, are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Green and brightly colored vegetables and whole fruits are best. You should eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
Protein Sources. Start decreasing your consumption of animal protein except for fish and high-quality natural cheese and yogurt. On a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, your daily intake of protein should be between 80 and 120 grams. Unless you have liver or kidney problems, allergies, or autoimmune disease, I recommend that you discuss your protein intake with your doctor (if it should be less than the above recommendation). Anti-inflammatory protein sources include lean poultry, fish, and soy foods such as tofu, tempeh, and other legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Fiber - 40 grams of fiber a day should be your goal. This can be achieved by increasing the consumption of fruit, especially berries, and vegetables, notably beans and whole grains. If you eat cereals, make sure they contain at least 4 – 5 is better - grams of bran per one-ounce serving.
Beverages. Drink at least 6-8 glasses a day of water throughout the day. Herbal tea, low-sodium vegetable juice, or coconut water. High-sugar drinks such as sodas contain the equivalent of eight tablespoons of sugar and many chemicals. And so, avoid them at all costs.
Foods To Avoid. Junk foods, high-fat meats, sugar, and fried foods increase the potential for inflammation. Reducing highly processed foods, red meats, and high-fat processed meats will help you lower your consumption of trans-fats and saturated fats. Attempt to consume 100 percent whole grains instead of refined white flour based, such as bread and pasta.
The nightshade family of plants, which includes eggplant, tomatoes, and potatoes, is another source of inflammation for many people. A chemical alkaloid called solanine, present in these vegetables, can trigger inflammation and pain in these people. If you are dealing with increasing nonspecific joint pain or any other source of inflammation, you may want to eliminate these vegetables from your diet to see if it helps.
Anti-inflammatory Diet Tips:
Caloric Intake - Most adults must consume between 2,000 and 3,000 calories daily. Women. Your weight should not fluctuate significantly if you eat the appropriate calories for your activity level. The distribution of calories you take in should be 40 to 50 percent from carbohydrates, 30 percent from fat, and 20 to 30 percent from protein. Try to include carbohydrates, fat, and protein at each meal.
Carbohydrates - Women should consume between 160 to 200 grams of carbohydrates daily on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet. While men should consume between 240 to 300 grams of carbohydrates a day. The most common recommendation is that most of this should be from less-refined and less-processed foods with a low glycemic load. In our clinic, we recommend that our patients eat more whole grains, such as brown rice and bulgur wheat, in which the grain is intact or in a few large pieces. These are preferable to whole wheat flour products because although they are less inflammatory, they have roughly the same glycemic index as white flour products. Eat more beans, winter squashes, and sweet potatoes. If past cannot be avoided, they should be cooked al dente and eaten in moderation. Avoid products made with high fructose corn syrup. Available and find the ones you like.
Phytonutrients -. Choose fruits and vegetables from all parts of the color spectrum, especially berries, tomatoes, orange and yellow fruits, and dark leafy greens. They help maximize the natural protection against age-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative disease. They also help the body eliminate environmental toxicity to get maximum natural protection against age-related diseases (including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative disease) and against environmental toxicity. Eat organic produce whenever possible. Be familiarized with which conventionally grown crops are most likely to carry pesticide residues. Eat cruciferous (cabbage-family) vegetables regularly. Drink tea - especially green tea - --instead of coffee. Red wine, in moderation, is healthier than white for those who drink alcohol. And finally…. Plain dark chocolate in moderation (with a minimum cocoa content of 70 percent) is considered a good food. Thank God for all Chocolate! Choose fresh as much as possible.
Here are some tips:
- Always aim for variety.
- For breakfast, oatmeal with fresh berries and walnuts is very healthy.
- Snack on whole fruits, nuts, seeds, and fresh vegetables
- Eat more fish and less fatty red meat.
- Cook with olive oil, avocado, or coconut oil (grape seed oil, if you need to use high temperature)
- Try a tofu stir-fry or scramble.
- Have a salad with lots of fresh vegetables as your meal.
- Bake, broil, poach, or stir-fry instead of deep frying.
- Choose dark green or brightly colored vegetables as side dishes -- they should fill half of your dinner plate.
- Maintaining a healthy weight is also very helpful for reducing pain and inflammation.
Vitamins and Minerals
It goes without saying that the best way to obtain all of your daily vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients is by eating a diet high in fresh foods, including fruits and vegetables. But given our busy lives and overly toxic environment, supplementing your diet with antioxidant supplements can help you optimize wellness. Here are a few suggestions:
- Vitamin C: 1000 milligrams a day.
- Fish oil, in capsule or liquid form with both EPA and DHA, 2 to 3 grams a day. I recommend products certified to be free of heavy metals and other contaminants.
- If you have a propensity to inflammation, I recommend taking a ginger and turmeric supplement daily unless you cook with it at least 3-4 times a week.
- Add coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) to your daily regimen: 100 – 200 milligrams of a soft gel form (take it with either breakfast or lunch)
- Alpha-lipoid acid, 100 to 400 milligrams a day, especially if you are at risk for metabolic syndrome.
- Vitamin D3: 2,000 to 5,000 mg a day.
- Vitamin E: 400 IU of natural mixed tocopherols (d-alpha-tocopherol with other tocopherols, or, better, a minimum of 80 milligrams of natural mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols).
- Selenium, 200 micrograms of an organic (yeast-bound) form.
- Mixed carotenoids, 10,000-15,000 IU daily.
- Multivitamin/multimineral. Get an excellent one from a well reputable nutritional company: Akasha Naturals, Thorne, Metagenics, Design for Health and etc.
- Women: Take supplemental calcium citrate, 500-700 milligrams a day, to help prevent osteoporosis in the post-menopause years
At The Akasha Center, we’ve created a one-of-a-kind anti-inflammatory program called the Akasha Reset. Engineered as an easy-to-follow research-based integrative program by the Talented Integrative Practitioners at Akasha, its objective is to help you detox, re-boost, and reset your system.
What sets our Reset Program apart from others is the fact that the entire Akasha Center Clinic and its clinicians are behind you, supporting every single step of your journey toward excellent health, Vitality, and well-being. Check it out: Akashareset.com
Edison de Mello, MD, Ph.D., is the founder and The Chief Medical Officer of the Akasha Center for Integrative Medicine - a leading center in integrative Medicine. Dr. de Mello is also the founder and Clinical Director of AkashaNaturals.com - a nutritional supplement company emphasizing the "less is more approach." In his Book, Bloated - How to eat without Pain - Dr. De Mello summarizes his approach to Gi Intestinal issues For further information, check Akasha Center and Akasha Naturals: www.akashacenter.com